Back in the late 90s, when I’d gotten out of college and in my naiivity thought my corporate masters knew better than I, my focus was on Getting The Task Done.
I figured, with my newly minted process re-engineering skills, what would it hurt if I took something that was taking 40 hours and knocked it down to 8? Something, say, like quoting complex projects? How could that hurt—what would be the downside?
This I did with quoting industrial gas turbine power plants. It’d taken the company a full week to assemble a custom, binder-filled quotation before I got there; after a few months I’d standardized 30-page specification documents for each of the different models, made and gotten updated supplier input for a cost/price database for components, formalized the pricing assembly sheets to get to the total investment, and done a number of other things to clarify and improve the speed and accuracy of information during the process.
Thus a quotation that had taken a full week to put together could now be done (and done better) in just one day.
Wasn’t This “Improvement” Great?
I was pretty pleased with myself.
But there was a secret downside to this “improvement.”
Sure, we could turn quotes out faster than ever before. Someone from Taiwan would ask for a bid on a power plant, and I could get a quote binder out to them that day by courier for overnight delivery.
It never once occurred to us, though, to ask: Should we be issuing these quotes at all?
Because the fact of the matter was, had we been smart about it and really looked into the nature of the problem, we were wasting resources on bidding to unqualified leads.
I didn’t know anything about qualifying or sales back then. Sure wish I did. My process would have been completely different.
So there we were, able to spin out expensive custom quotation documents faster than ever. Spending our limited resources more quickly than before. Churning out bid docs. Making noise. But results?
If you think this kind of thing is present only in engineered solution provider situations, think again. This is the same as the restaurant owner who hasn’t done any food costing, priced the plate at what they think is “fair market value,” gotten really good at cooking the meal efficiently, and with every customer pleasantly and quickly served is selling themselves faster into oblivion.
And that is, unfortunately, all too commonplace.
Are You Afraid Of Giving Up Control?
I encounter business owners who are doing the quoting themselves.
They are terrified to give up control, because they’re afraid someone else is going to make a mistake…and then they’ll be on the hook for delivering results at a loss.
“Only I can do this,” they tell themselves. “No one else can be trusted with it.”
This is where their focus is.
Does that sound like “accurate thinking” to you?
Their level of awareness concerning the problem is low, isn’t it. It’s self-centered. It’s not about the client or the results or even the long term survival of the business.
And they have no idea of what unintended consequences are resulting from that decision to continue down the road they’re on—or would result if they made a change.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
And in contrast to the way I’ve observed most people think, “We don’t know what we don’t know” isn’t 1/2 of things…it’s more like an ever-expanding 7/8ths of the pie. What we don’t know we don’t know is the vast majority of things.
Take a moment and consider what that means about whatever you’re doing.
There I was, happily blasting out quotes faster than ever, all proud of myself because I’d reduced the turnaround time to a fifth of what it had been … plus with better data supporting the final number.
Yet the big unintended consequence was that I had made the company expend its resources more quickly by bidding on more unqualified leads faster.
What else was resulting from my decision that was unintended, and that I wasn’t even aware of happening?
Well, here’s just one item: I was freely giving ammunition to our prospects to use against competing potential suppliers.
Unintended Consequences Of Being Trapped In Your Own Thinking
Back to the owners who are doing all the quoting themselves.
I’ve met several who were backlogged in getting back to interested prospects. I mean they were leaving money lying around on the floor that could easily be picked up (and think about what this means to the capacity and utilization of the people who would be doing the work), and they knew it! And this backlog wasn’t just a week or two–in some cases it was three or four months.
What unintended consequences can you think of resulting from this decision to “maintain control” over the quoting process?
Is this working ON your business or IN your business? Shouldn’t an owner be working ON the business? (That’s one.)
What level of revenue are you GIVING UP ON because you’re stuck there, stressed out and quoting, knowing you’re behind and feeling scared because you “know” no one else can do this job? (That’s two.)
How many things do you think I’ve seen over the past two decades when it comes to mistakes and unintended consequences? How much of “you don’t know what you don’t know” do you think I’ve seen that I could tell you about and help you deliberately avoid before it happens to you?
I’ve cleaned up and freed up many business owners who were willing to consider change.
If change is simply too scary for you now, scarier than changing the frustrating and overwhelming way they are now, then close this tab.
But if you’re open to finding out how I can help you and what unintended problems I can save you from before they become problems…
PS. “If you want things in your life to change, you’ve got to change things in your life.” You say you know this…but do you act on it? I’ve seen too many people who want the change without changing anything. Read that out loud and tell me just how dumb it sounds. Then make your choice. On our call I’ll let you know what the secret fear is that has been blocking you from considering getting out of the bad situation you’re in until now.